Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Model, Super Mom, Super Nice

Note: this post was published on my other blog, "The Production Room" which is about my other life in Santa Barbara, California.

Kathy Ireland came into the studio at The Production Room in Santa Barbara today to record 4 new radio commercials for her company, Kathy Ireland World Wide. Then we began recording her new audio book, Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success and Sanity.

We've worked together in the studio several times over the years. Kathy is a Santa Barbra native who's right at home around town. She still lives here with her husband, Greg and their three children. Working at the Prodroom keeps her close to home and family which is clearly her choice since she could work anywhere she wanted to.

She is very tall, and I had to re-arrange the booth to allow her to sit upright on a stool and later, to stand as she read. She is very focused and she powered through pages of material that might have left another talent gasping for air.

Kathy is a committed Christian who shares her compassion for working moms, her good sense about living well and her active faith with readers and listeners. While some might find it odd that a woman they know primarily from swimsuit photos is so strong on faith and life affirming values, it actually is in keeping with who she is and why she has remained healthy and grounded in her home town with her family.

We should all mature so well!

The print version of her book will be available on April 7. Pick up the audio book after it is released and you'll hear the work Kathy recorded here today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Farming - What a Concept!

My production colleague, Bryan and I talked about it a few years ago. Last year he bought a few acres in the Pacific Northwest.

Another friend, former radio broadcaster Courtney, just emailed that she and her husband are talking about it.

Farming. It's becoming a dream and a reality for more and more people. The numbers of professionals and urbanites moving to the land are going to change the popular idea of the word.

The 5,000 acre factory farms crank out food we buy in the supermarket. But what about the micro farms of just a few acres? What about "farming" your suburban lawn or backyard garden? Edible landscape makes a lot more sense than ornamental shrubbery in areas with scarce resources like land and water. So what if you're only farming 1000 square feet? If you're growing food for your family and neighbors and feeding yourself from your land - you are farming.

When we teach our children what a farm is, we start with story books that show the small, mixed crop, family farms - typical of the 19th and early 20th century. Why don't we show little Savannah and Trout the endless mega farm that grew their breakfast cereal? Maybe because it's a cold image of industrial resource management that isn't very appealing.

There's a certain amount of anxiety driving all of this. We know WE didn't grow any food for ourselves this year, we're assuming that someone else will. But we know from seeing the aftermath of war and disaster that it doesn't take long for society to collapse when the food trucks stop rolling. So we are left to hope that nothing will ever break down in our food chain.

As I wrote to Courtney, "stop talking about farming and do it. You'll only regret that you didn't start sooner." If that's not a choice you can make, plant a "victory garden" this year. Declare your independence from anxiety and the supermarket - even if it's just for a few meals. Bringing food to the table from your land is an experience that makes you feel better about your chances in a changing world.

These photos of our organic navel orange crop were taken last week in Santa Barbara.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flavored Sugar Water Isn't Food

We liked the "old Days" on PEI when "energy" drinks and canned soda weren't available. Times change and in our profit driven society it was no surprise that the soft drink manufacturers strong armed the Province into changing the law to allow sales and distribution of their latest products.

What results is a weird offshoot of the whole unregulated "food as medicine" nightmare.

Check this story out before you pick up a "health" drink at your local Gas/Food Mart:

CORRECTION: I posted "soda" in reference to canned soft drinks. In PEI, the term is "pop". Sorry, "soda" is what we call "pop" in the southwest.

Planning Your Summer Supper - In January

A visitor I was talking to this week asked how things were on the farm.

"Cold" I said.
"So what happens when you're not there?"
"The farm sleeps"

And while the farm sleeps we begin the work that will result in all the good meals we'll enjoy next summer on our farm in PEI.

We're looking at seed catalogs and browsing through the news on organics. I realized today that I could build a link into this blog that would help me and also provide a useful reference for others who may be thinking ahead to planting season.

I've linked the OMRI list to the resources of this blog...partly so I can hit it at a moments notice for product information and partly to make it more available to readers who stop by to visit. If you're planing on doing a little gardening or food growing of your own this year, I suggest you check this site for organic products you can use on your own - and maybe find some superior answers to your plant pest and disease problems.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dishing with the Executive Chef

Foodies will know that Cat Cora is the the first woman to win Iron Chef America. She is also the current Executive Chef of Bon Appetit Magazine. She's written two books, just opened a new SoCal Restaurant and happened to be in the studio at The Production Room Santa Barbara yesterday, recording a promotional announcement for "Vegas Uncorked" featuring 4 days of events with celebrity chefs and vintners.

As we were setting up the session with David Miller at R&R Partners in Las Vegas, I had a few moments to visit the chef.

She is petite, attractive, fit and has a bit of intensity about her. She came in ready to work. As we set up I told her that I grow organic produce on a farm in Canada. I asked her what she'd like to find in the farmer's market. She opened up and shared some really great suggestions with me. She likes to work with what she finds in the local markets.

We talked about baby herbs, french carrots, baby beets, mixed greens and fava beans. She asked what we grew and I described the mix of fun and gourmet varieties we usually plant along with down home favorites like peas and potatoes.

Cat is a southern girl. Her voice retains a hint of the deep southern notes of Jackson Mississippi and her manner caries a bit of old southern hospitality. Along with her modern style, she's the traditional voice that says, "Here. Y'all come and eat."

I appreciated finding that her approach is very much in tune with what's fresh and local. No need to fly in baby artichokes from Argentina when the local market has other interesting choices to work with.

For me, preparing and eating food is the natural result of growing and harvesting crops. And part of what I'm doing is working to create sustainable farms and local markets by simply providing all the ingredients of a really good meal.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Green Revolution Starts Now

Barack Obama is setting his course in a radical new direction.
As he takes office on January 20th, he'll be holding most of the cards of his "New Deal" close to his vest. We aren't sure what his program will actually look like. But we do know that the issues of global climate change, North America's energy future and international security are on the table.

While each of these issues has been part of the political discussion for many years, my sense is that this will be the first time that ALL of them will be unified by a single major policy maker who has a popular mandate to take action. The resulting period of change could be deep and long lasting.

The political risks are equally large. Attempts to form policy on the incremental issues have failed internationally. Technical, Economic and Ideological limitations have doomed previous attempts to deal with climate and energy issues. That's why I believe that this is the moment for sweeping change. President Elect Obama has made cabinet appointments that show he is preparing to seize the moment. Green energy will finally get a green light.

When Canada's Liberal Leader, Stephan Dion, ran for Premier last Fall, he did so on an agenda that included sweeping reform to reduce Canada's carbon emissions. He must have believed that Canadians in general support high environmental standards and would therefore support his plan. It didn't work out that way. Voters sensed economic panic and couldn't quite fathom how his complicated carbon tax would deliver positive results. There was another problem. Canada is now one of the largest petroleum exporting countries in the world. One hand simply doesn't wash the other.

President Bush also dealt with the questions of sustainable energy, security and the environment in a piecemeal fashion. The result was a sidestep of the Kyoto protocol and the deployment of about a third of Americas' military assets to the Middle East. We have ground troops throughout the region and at least 1 Navy Carrier group in the Persian Gulf at all times. All to guarantee the status quo in global energy markets. The argument for this policy is based on the ideology that government doesn't provide for people, private enterprise does. Therefore, the government should protect private enterprise.

Obama seems to have a very different outlook. He realizes that we don't have to deploy our military to protect a pipeline that sucks oil at one end and our wealth at the other, IF we can develop a sustainable, secure domestic energy industry AND reduce our greenhouse emissions while boosting our economy. He's going to hire the private sector to deliver a tri-fecta.

Some people here in the States are screaming that the Obama plan is socialist. These same people saw no problem with starting a war and then funding private enterprise to run it with no bid contracts. Haliburton was hired on a blank check mission because it was,"the only company big enough to handle the job". Conservatives and Libertarians are now demanding that there be a "market based solution" to the problem. Well frankly, at this time there is no private or international entity who can meet our need for increasing domestic energy supplies for the next 200 years. And there won't be unless we invest in our own interests.

Last week Vladimir Putin brought Europe to it's knees by shutting off one pipeline. If they didn't know it before, the EU knows now that it is vulnerable. On the current basis, NATO can't guarantee security or stability in Europe unless it intends to invade Russia. The whole global free trade initiative was trumped by the Russian gas company.

This "tweak" at NATO weakness and the conflicts that tie our hands in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. are just a few of the reasons that the table is set for Obama to orchestrate change.